The thing about desktop fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printers is that the filament flowing through them can be so variable. That’s the thing about them! Well, not the only thing, but it’s so damned important. There are countless numbers of filament manufacturers entering the space, so we’ve got variation from brand to brand, with some manufacturers producing feedstock with better consistency than others. Even within a single brand, there’s variance between materials – ABS vs. PLA – and filament diameter – 1.75 mm vs. 3 mm. And, to make things that much more difficult, even characteristics like filament colours and transparency will affect the settings you’ll need to create a successful print.
To make the nascent desktop 3D printing industry more accessible to new consumers of the technology, it’s necessary to adequately document the proper settings for a given filament, all the way down to the colour. UK-based filament supplier 3D FilaPrint is in the process of building an online database for their material offerings that outlines what settings, like temperature and speed, work best for which feedstock. The 3D FilaPrint Customer Guide outlines a huge range of filaments and the settings that work best with each one, all submitted by users themselves.
On the left hand side of the guide, you’ll see a long list of feedstocks: ABS 1.75 mm in every colour from “Blue Green to Yellow Green” to “Purple to Pink Thermochange”, ABS 3 mm, PLA in 1.75 and 3mm, Nylon, Kai Parthy’s speciality filaments, and Ninjaflex. Click on a filament and you’re greeted with one user’s specific settings that led to a successful print. Users will include such details as their nozzle size and the printer used, as well as the speed and temperature that allowed for their print to come out right. I’m particularly interested in the Ninjaflex entries because I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to print with FilaFlex, a similarly flexible filament from Recreus. The guide’s still young and, so, not every category has been completed. For instance, I can’t use it to figure out how to get Laywoo-D3 to print correctly, yet.
Also of note is the guide’s page of “Catastrophic Failures :(“, which will hopefully guide users to learn from the mistakes of others. More importantly, the site would like to address what might be done with wasted plastic from failed prints, a plea which I will repost for ethical purposes here:
How are we going to deal with the failed prints and the many metres of strands, rafts and sleeves that are being made to waste, whilst we are all enjoying this new technology, how should we tackle the waste that is created (perhaps when the new Filamaker is available, this may help to a degree). If you have any ideas of how we can get this topic going or you know of someone, a company or an organisation who is ready to take on this task. Then we would like you to submit your suggestion on the notes section of our Submission Page. For your information we have so far written to three local politicians, one industrial recycling company and not one of them showed any interest. Well, we think it is time they became interested!
That’s definitely a serious concern as the technology grows more and more popular. I don’t want to see 3D printing repeat the same mistakes as every other industry. Let’s cut waste off at the pass, before it becomes built into the industry.
As the 3D FilaPrint guide grows, so too will the knowledge of 3D printing users. And, run by ethically minded people, I wish 3D FilaPrint the best of luck. Lord knows we need something like this!